WINTER WONDERLAND: Baltic athletes turned in some impressive results on the ice and snow.
RIGA - In the third weekly installment that checks on how Baltic athletes are faring in winter disciplines across North America and Europe, we take in the second round of the FIBT Bobsled and Skeleton World Cups, the second round of the IBU Biathlon World Cup, the fourth round of the FIS Cross Country World Cup, the third round of the FIS Ski Jumping World Cup and the second round of the FIL Luge World Cup
FIBT Skeleton World Cup, La Plagne, France
After denying a Latvia one-two a week earlier in Innsbruck, Austria, Russia’s Alexander Tretiakov could not do it again in La Plagne. Despite racing on the La Plagne track for the first time, there was simply no stopping Martins Dukurs, who not only blitzed the field once more but also smashed the track record that had stood since 1997, by 55 hundredths of a second with a first run time of one minute, 0.51 seconds. His second run was only slightly slower, seeing him easily hold off older brother Tomass by nearly a whole second over the course of his two runs.
Like in Innsbruck, Tomass held a slight advantage over Tretiakov going into their second run. However, despite the Russian setting a new track record for the fastest start on his second run, Tomass was able to recover enough time over the remainder of the course to avoid a repeat of a week previous, finishing 0.19 seconds quicker than Tretiakov.
FIBT 2-Man Bob World Cup, La Plagne, France
In the 2-man bob, Oskars Melbardis took over piloting Latvia 1 after finishing fourth in Innsbruck in the opening round of the World Cup.
However, despite being the best finishing of the Latvian crews, Melbardis and Daumants Dreiskens were a long way off in matching their achievements from the opening round, finishing ninth overall with a total time across two runs of one minute, 59.62 seconds, 1.12 seconds behind Germany 1 piloted by Thomas Florschuetz, who was able to improve on his second placing from a week previous.
The pairing was hurt by a poor first run in which they would only achieve the 13th quickest time. A second run that saw them produce the sixth quickest time was enough to bump them into the top ten.
Pushed back to piloting Latvia 2, Edgars Maskalans produced similar results to a week previous, finishing 16th – one spot back on a week earlier. He and Intars Dambis finished 1.85 seconds behind Florschuetz.
Latvia’s third bob piloted by Ugis Zalims enjoyed significant improvements on their opening effort in Innsbruck, coming home just one spot behind Latvia 2 in 17th position.
FIBT 4-Man Bob World Cup, La Plagne, France
Edgars Maskalans retained the piloting duties for Latvia 1 in the 4-man bob, but it was a disappointing event for the crew who could only come home in 8th overall, 0.57 seconds slower than Germany 3, piloted by Manuel Machata.
Latvia 2 would at least be able to assure that both Latvian crews would finish in the top 10 with Oskars Melbardis piloting the crew to 10th overall despite recording just the 11th quickest time on his second run.
The skeleton, two-man and four-man bob World Cups now move to Winterberg in Germany for their third rounds with racing commencing on Friday.
E. ON IBU Biathlon World Cup 1, Hochfilizen, Austria
Beginning on Dec. 9, a host of Baltic biathletes traveled to Austria for the second round of the E. ON IBU Biathlon World Cup, with at least one Baltic country represented in four of the six races. However, the Baltic contingent would fail to compete with the frontrunners in any of the races.
In the opening race, the Men’s 10km sprint, Tomas Kaukenas of Lithuania and Roland Lessing of Estonia were the only two of the seven Baltic athletes to finish in the top 50 of the 106-strong field, finishing 44th and 47th respectively, both coming home nearly two minutes behind race winner Carl Johan Bergman of Sweden.
Later, in the women’s 7.5 km sprint, all six of the Baltic skiers finished at the back of the field with Lithuania’s Diana Rasimoviciute the first home, coming 72nd out of 98 skiers after missing four shots to finish more than three minutes behind winner Magdalena Neuner of Germany.
On Saturday in the men’s 12.5 km pursuit, Lessing and Kaukenas were the only Baltic athletes to qualify, finishing 39th and 52rd, respectively. Missing just one shot, Lessing’s time was two minutes and 41.3 seconds slower than that of winner Emil Hegle Svendsen of Norway, whilst Kaukenas would miss five shots, finishing four minutes and 26.8 seconds back.
No females would finish with a good enough placing in the sprint to qualify for the women’s pursuit.
Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia were all represented in the men’s relay on Sunday, but all three teams would be lapped, meaning they failed to achieve a final time.
The World Cup circuit remains in Hochfilzen for round three this week where competition has already begun.
Viessmann FIS Cross-Country World Cup, Round 4, Davos, Switzerland
Only Estonian skiers made the journey to Davos for the fourth round of the Viessmann FIS Cross-Country World Cup. In the first event of the weekend, the Ladies 15 km on Saturday, two Estonians would compete with Tatjana Mannima finishing 41st and Laura Rohtla 63rd, the latter disappointingly the fourth to last skier home.
In the men’s 30 km race later in the day, only two of the three Estonian skiers competing would complete the race with Aivar Rehemaa one of six skiers failing to cross the finish line. Eeri Vahtra came home in 55th and Karel Tammjarv five places behind in 60th.
On Sunday Mannima was the only Estonian competing in the ladies sprint, finishing 66th out of 69 skiers.
In the men’s event that followed, Peter Kuumel was the best finishing of four Estonians with a 34th place finish.
This week the World Cup moves on to Rogla, Slovenia.
FIS Ski Jumping World Cup, Round 3, Harrachov, Czech Republic
After failing to compete in the second round of the FIS ski jumping World Cup a week previous, Estonia’s Kaarel Nurmsalu was back competing in the Czech Republic. The 20-year-old came agonizingly close to qualifying for a second jump, with an opening jump of 122.5 meters giving him 115.2 points and placing him in 32nd position, two places outside of receiving a second jump.
This weekend the World Cup moves to Engelberg, Switzerland for the fourth round, beginning on Saturday.
Viessmann Luge World Cup, Round 2, Whistler, Canada
In the second week of racing on the Luge World Cup circuit, Latvia was represented in all four races. In the women’s luge, Eliza Tiruma was Latvia’s only luger and it would hardly be a memorable event with the 21-year-old coming home near the rear of the field with a combined time of one minute, 25.472 seconds, which was only good enough for 21st place, 1.988 seconds behind winner Natalie Geisenberger.
The news was a little better in the men’s event as Inar Kivlenieks finished his first run with the 10th quickest run. However, a slower second run would see him drop back to 12th overall with a total time of one minute, 37.432 second; 0.952 seconds slower than German Felix Loch.
Kivlenieks’ teammates Martins Rubenis and Kristaps Maurins finished 20th and 23rd, respectively.
Missing in the men’s doubles was the Olympic silver medal pairing of Andris and Juris Sics, with Andrejs Berze and Uldis Logins replacing them, making their step up from the junior to senior ranks. In their debut they would finish in 15th position, moving up two places from 17th following their first run. With a total time of one minute, 23.930 seconds, the Latvians would finish 1.286 seconds behind winners, Andreas and Wolfgang Linger of Austria.
In the final event of the weekend, the team relay, Latvia was the last of eight teams home in a time of two minutes, 21.796 seconds; 3.023 seconds behind Germany.
The World Cup remains in Canada for the third round, moving to Calgary with racing beginning on Friday.